The latest executive order by the governor seems to have struck a nerve with a group that we could call “graduation moms.”
Guidance issued by the Minnesota Dept. of Education concerning how graduation ceremonies may or may not be conducted sounds like top-down micro-management. Rules such as no car-pooling if schools plan a car parade to honor their graduates. The guidance goes even further, saying that windows should be rolled up for the entire ceremony if cars are parked next to each other. If six feet apart, then those in vehicles would be allowed to roll their windows down.
There are more. Guidance says that events should be brief, without food, beverages or bathrooms. Following the ceremony, graduates should not throw their caps in the air because that may encourage them to leave their vehicle. And, as for private graduation parties, the Dept. of Health is discouraging them as well, saying that gatherings of people from multiple households are not in the spirit of the stay-at-home order.
Think of what this year’s senior class has missed as their high school careers come to a quiet and somewhat lonely end. Winter basketball tournaments were abruptly cancelled, and the entire spring sports season was called off. With distance-learning, much of the social contact and other activities that seniors take part in were lost.
Wouldn’t this be a topic better served by making it a local decision? Our local school boards and administration know their schools and their students, and they are fully capable of planning ceremonies that are respectful and yet still maintain social distancing. The logistics are far different for a school graduating 75 or 100 students than they are for a school with 750 graduates. One school in southern Minnesota had even mapped out its football field, with ample space being designated for each graduate to sit during the ceremony.
Although it didn’t come as a total surprise, the speed at which our state budget surplus disappeared is eye-opening. The February forecast called for $1.5 billion to be left over when the two-year biennium ended next June. Just two months later, another projection said that, not only was the surplus gone, it had turned into a $2.4 billion deficit. That’s a turnaround of $4 billion, brought on by reduced tax collections due to the economy grinding to a halt.
And, it could be even worse. This latest projection assumed a resurging economy in the third quarter of this year and tax collections making a modest recovery. Compared to the numbers from the last financial crisis back in 2008, these current projections are more positive. Let’s hope they’re right!
This marks the final full week of the regular session. Bills are scheduled to be heard in floor action each day. Items relating to agriculture, transportation, taxes, bonding and energy are among the bills remaining to be acted on.